In this country, a boss should always be bald and have a big belly. My uncle isn’t bald, he hasn’t got a big belly, and you don’t realize, the first time you see him, that he’s the actual boss of a big office in the center of town.
My parents were skeptical about his offer. I was too young to go to town alone to work for him and too old to stay at home without work, because in my village, a girl of fourteen should definitely begin supporting her family, especially if she had a large one like mine. Mama was getting weaker day by day, and I had six younger sisters to provide for.
It was about time.
I was amazed when I first stepped into the big office. My uncle showed me around. There were mostly girls working here and they were so pretty! They wore high heels and dresses that you saw in movies, bright, colourful, and new. I hid the patched hem of my dress in my fist when one of the ladies led me to the other room. Before the door closed, I turned around and saw my uncle, his eyes met mine and he nodded. It was going to be alright.
The lady informed me that she would give me a makeover, whatever that meant. I was too awestruck by my surroundings to question her. We spent hours in that place. Just as a dirty dish is scrubbed, washed, rinsed and then wiped until it shines, I retuned back shining. The lady had done wonders to my hair. It no longer resembled the curly creepers of our garden. It was straight, and shiny, and yes, smooth, very smooth to touch. I couldn’t stop touching my hair and the lady reminded me to stay still while she dapped away on my face using all kinds of things. I closed my eyes and took it all in. Oh, what a smell. I hadn’t smelled like this in my entire life.
It took a slight nudge to wake me up. After changing into the clothes that the lady had handed me, I came out pulling and tugging at my dress. The lady tsk-tsked me away with a garment that I had never seen before. I was to learn later about the importance of stuffed push up bras.
At last I was guided outside where my Uncle was waiting. His eyes widened on seeing me and there was a strange expression on his face. I could see his eyes twinkle. Curiosity was killing me and I managed to get a glimpse of myself in the mirror behind my uncle. The girl staring back at me was unrecognizable, with shiny black hair falling on bare shoulders and the high cut red dress exposing fleshy thighs.
I blushed and looked straight into my own eyes. That was the last time I saw them sparkle with hope.
Hope for better things to come.
A foolish, naïve hope.
Image Copyright with Photographer